Vimeo focuses on delivering high quality HD content in a clutter-free and ad-free experience; the Vimeo community has many professionals in it. YouTube, the video giant of contemporary Internet culture, is more of a free-for-all space that offers content spanning the entire spectrum of video production. Its massive viewership and content database has made it the one-stop place for everything from how-to videos and online courses, to viral marketing, political campaigns, and candid home videos.

Comparison chart

Vimeo versus YouTube comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartVimeoYouTube
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VimeoYouTube
Type of site Video hosting service Video hosting service
Website www.vimeo.com www.youtube.com
Owner IAC Google (formerly independent)
Registration Optional (required to upload) Optional (required to upload/comment)
Key people Kerry Trainor (CEO), Dae Mellencamp (President) Steve Chen, Founder & CTO Chad Hurley, Founder & CEO Jawed Karim, Founder & Advisor
Current status active Active
Alexa Rank 132 (February 2013) 3 (January 2016)
Viewership One hundred million visitors per month. More than 1 billion unique visitors monthly.
Type Subsidiary, limited liability company Subsidiary of Google
Quality Higher quality alternative, HD is the standard. 8K, 4K, 1080p, 720p, 480p, 360p, 240p, 144p
Languages English, Spanish, German, French Available in 54 languages
Pricing 3-tier pricing scheme, from free up to $199/yr. No fees, except YouTube red 9.99/mo fee is optional
Ads Only Vimeo Pro subscribers can upload promotional content. Anyone can upload promotional material, and ads are displayed throughout videos.
Maximum Video Resolution 1080p, auto-compressed to 720p unless with paid subscription 8K UHD
Limits 10 SD videos/day. 1 HD video/week for free customers. No HD limit for top tier customers. No limit to video length. No limits to the number of uploads, or views.
Private messages Yes Yes
Follow trending topics Yes No
Users express approval of content by Like "Like/Dislike"; Subscription
App Official iOS and Android app. Official iOS and Android app.
Sharing Videos easily shared through social media platforms. Videos easily shared through social media platforms.
Launch date November 2004 February 2005
Headquarters location New York City, New York, United States San Bruno, California, United States
Founded by Jakob Lodwick and Zach Klein Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, Jawed Karim
Add friends No No

User Base

Vimeo is used by filmmakers, videographers, and other serious professionals from fields that focus on film- and video-making. Creative professionals stand to have an advantage on Vimeo because of peer-feedback and engagement with professionals from their own field.

YouTube is a convenient way for absolutely anyone to upload quick videos of everything from tutoring to home videos to music performances. Although the user base is much more amateurish, YouTube comes with the advantage of having a much larger viewership. YouTube has a reputation for lower quality videos and a higher percentage of videos that are unprofessional or pointless.

The video below highlights the differences between these two sites:

User Experience

The overall appearance of a Vimeo channel is designed to have the feel of a professional portfolio. YouTube has a more cluttered and distracting layout and is less geared toward displaying professional productions. The YouTube channel page does offer some customization options, like banners of varying sizes for different types of screens (desktop/mobile). As there is no time limit on the length of a video, the site is particularly attractive to filmmakers and fans.

Video Playback Quality

File formats

Both Vimeo and YouTube support video files uploaded in the following formats: MPEG, MOV, WMV, MP4, AVI, MKV, MOD, RA, RAM, ASF, Ogg, 3GP, and QT.

Vimeo supports a few additional formats that YouTube does not: 3G2, DIVX, and DV. Conversely, YouTube supports uploading FLV and WebM videos but these formats are not supported by Vimeo.

HD Support on YouTube vs Vimeo

Vimeo supports up to full 1080p HD video, and users can set the default viewing of their videos to HD. Vimeo’s bit rate is variable, with a maximum of 5 mb/s. Audio bit rates on Vimeo are up to 320 kbps while YouTube uses 192kbps for its audio playback.

YouTube goes further than 1080p HD for video quality; in 2010 YouTube announced support for 4K video, also known as Ultra HD or UHD, with typical resolution of 3840 × 2160 pixels. Bit rates of up to 5.9 mb/s are possible with 1080p MP4 files, and users can change their settings to play HD whenever they enter fullscreen video that supports it. In December 2014, Vimeo announced support for 4K downloads — Vimeo PRO members and Vimeo On Demand (VOD) sellers can now choose to allow users to download 4K video files. Support for 4K streaming is still unavailable on Vimeo.

While videos can be uploaded in HD, they are not played at that setting by default, and many users do not bother with switching their settings. Moreover, YouTube starts with a lower bit rate, which results in the video playing faster (especially on slower connections) but because of the nature of the video, it looks pixelated at low bit rates. The effect this has on video playback quality is best illustrated by an example: watch the same video on YouTube and on Vimeo to compare the playback quality, especially in the first 7 seconds of the video. (Note: Logged in users who have opted to use special settings may not notice a clear difference.)

Pricing and Limits

Vimeo has a 3-tier pricing scheme:

  1. Vimeo Basic users pay no fee and are limited to uploading 1 HD video and 500MB of content per week (and at reduced upload speeds), but can still upload 10 standard definition (SD) videos per day. Videos cannot be embedded in HD. Banner ads will appear on their videos.
  2. Vimeo Plus users pay $9.95/month and can upload 5GB of HD videos per week, up to 260GB per year, and are also able to embed their videos in HD. Their videos are played back free of ads. Plus users have more channel customizations options than Basic users, but cannot add specific branding.
  3. Vimeo PRO costs $199/year. PRO users can upload 20GB of HD video per week, up to 1000GB per year, and receive faster upload times and banner ad-free playback of their videos. Their videos can also be embedded in HD. Videos are played back ad-free, and there are no banner ads on the page. Users can also create unlimited groups, channels, and albums, and have the option for the Vimeo On Demand distribution service, which offers a 90/10 revenue split. PRO users have advanced customization options for their channel and can add their own branding, and get unlimited HD plays on any device.

YouTube is free, and has no structured pricing plan. Videos are limited to 15 minutes in length for most users, and there is no limit to the amount of videos that may be uploaded or viewed.

Generating Revenue

Vimeo allows users a greater variety of ways to create revenue from their content. Vimeo On Demand (for PRO users only) allows users to sell their videos directly to viewers, keeping 90% of the profits. On demand videos can be viewed on mobile devices and full HD TVs. Another way is the Tip Jar (for PRO and Plus users) that lets viewers leave tips for videos they like or appreciate. The third option (available to all users) is to license their videos through Getty Images for stock content, although this depends on Getty selecting any video for inclusion to the program. Vimeo also recently launched the Brand Creator Fund, which pairs filmmakers with brands to create promotional content on the site. It’s a new potential source of funding for filmmakers using the site, but the odds are low of being selected for the program.

YouTube's monetization program allows video uploaders to receive 55% of the revenue generated from advertisements shown with their content, but it usually requires millions of views on a video for the ad revenue to become anything substantial. Another avenue is to create a paid YouTube channel, where users must pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee to view content. A free channel can be converted to a paid channel only once it reaches 10,000 subscribers. Some content creators who have shown a repeated ability to generate large audiences for their videos are being offered product placement and brand promotion deals (funding of which is entirely independent from Google/YouTube). Devin Graham's YouTube channel, devinsupertram is a good example of this new sort of advertising.

Ads

The Vimeo website appearance is clean and free of banner ads. There are also fewer in-video pop up ads. This makes for a much less distracting experience for the viewer. Also, Vimeo’s database of movies contains a relatively low amount of commercial videos that promote a product, service, or brand, as only PRO level users are allowed to upload commercial content.

Watching a video on YouTube entails viewing ads before, during, and after the video. Sponsored messages often appear before a video starts, pop up ads appear during playback, and related content videos are suggested after the video ends. While this can be an annoying process for viewers, it also makes YouTube very appealing for advertisers or individuals looking to promote their content. One disadvantage is that similar videos, often from an advertiser’s competition, will be suggested to viewers. Users can opt out of ads by going into their channel settings and selecting the option.

Privacy options on YouTube vs Vimeo

Vimeo offers password protection to videos, so they can be shared with friends before setting them as public. This is different from creating a private video on YouTube in that one doesn't need to be logged into the account to view it. You just forward the video to a recipient along with the password to type in. Another special Vimeo feature allows users to protect their content — Vimeo Plus and PRO users are able to restrict which domain names (if any) can embed their videos. With YouTube you can only control whether or not the video can be embedded; you cannot control which specific websites are allowed to embed your videos.

YouTube also has a way of making videos private by allowing access to specific Google users. Which means one has to log in to their G+ account to watch the video. Alternatively, users can send a link to an "unlisted" video, and anyone with the link will be able to see the video. This action, however cannot be undone, i.e. once a video is shared, you cannot deny access to some users without removing the video itself.

Apps and Sharing

Vimeo has an official iOS and Android app, which allows users to manage their videos, search and view the entire Vimeo library, and to share videos via social networks. Vimeo has built in sharing options for Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, Twitter, Reddit, and provides a link to embed. Plus and PRO users can embed their content in HD and have the option of setting the playback default quality to HD. One of Vimeo’s standout features is Dropbox integration, allowing automated uploads from Dropbox to Vimeo.

YouTube also has official iOS and Android apps that offer functions similar to those of the Vimeo apps. The YouTube app also allows users to perform voice searches for videos. YouTube videos have built in sharing options with all of the sites Vimeo offers, plus LinkedIn, Blogger, and some international sites, as well as embed links. Youtube’s massive popularity and fast playback has made it the go-to platform for uploading videos through other applications (like iPhoto, F-spot, iOS photo gallery, Android camera apps) or embedding videos on websites.

Viewership

Vimeo has nearly 20 million members and receives 100 million unique visitors each month. And although Vimeo’s viewership is dwarfed by YouTube’s numbers, the site attracts the elite and a niche crowd that appreciates the higher quality videos and cleaner layout, such as indie film makers and extreme sports videos. Vimeo Plus and PRO accounts offer advanced analytics tools that are highly praised by users. This video gives a glimpse of Vimeo analytics offer:

YouTube is by far the most popular video hosting site in the world, receiving more than 1 billion unique visitors every month. In fact, it even functions as the world’s second most popular search engine. The fact that almost 100 hours of video are uploaded every hour means that there is a lot of content competing for views. YouTube also offers in-depth analytics for its users, as shown in the video below:

References

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